Precinct 333

Monday, July 05, 2004

A bad idea whose time is past

So they want to try for a flag burning amendment. Bad idea. It's not that I am not sympathetic to the sentiments expressed by the supporters of the amendment, but I think they miss some key points.

First, most flags are private property. As such, an owner has a virtually unfettered right to modify his or her flag in any way he or she desires, or to destroy it outright. The amendment strikes at the heart of the ownership interest of every flag-owner. The courts have already held that one can punish someone for burning a stolen flag, both for theft and vandalism.

More importantly, the flag is hardly the thing folks fought and died for. Soldiers swear to defend the Constitution, not the flag. It is the Constitution that is at the heart of what it means to be an American, not the flag. Similarly, the Declaration ofIndependence more truly represents what America is. But I see no great uproar to protect either of those.

Flag burning is a trivial problem. Just ignore the folks who do it and we'll be fine.


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